Nov 4, 2011

Omnipresent Advertisements


The field of advertising has become very ingenious and today advertisements can be found in the most unexpected locations. In today’s world of marketing explosion, it is often difficult to distinguish between advertisement and information. While many of these advertisements are commendable for their efforts, many of them simply fail because they are displayed in places that no clients would be interested in. I encountered one of those failed advertisements at a recent journey. For example, as I was taking off my shoes and belts for the plane security, I noticed that the bottom of the security trays were full of advertisements. There were pictures of a girl with a generic so called “athletic build” who was lifting dumbbells. In between shoving my laptop into the security tray and taking off my girly sandals with 4 buckles each, I could never find out what the girl was actually advertising, and I doubt if anyone else did either.
Who cares?

The next example of completely worthless advertising came in the plane itself. When I first saw the plane, I thought we had walked into an “airhostess Barbie” advertisement. But then I realized we were actually supposed to sit inside that itsy bitsy thing. The size of the plane had a big role to play in the failure of its advertisements. After we settled down, I got my laptop out to type, and then realized that I could only open it 30 degrees, because the person in front had relaxed his seat and encroached my space. As I was trying to peer at the tiny aperture of my laptop, my elbows stuck out at odd angles because the seat itself was so small and I didn’t dare risk touching anyone beside me. In this undignified position, I had neither the time nor the inclination to notice the cheery advertisement pasted on the back of the plane seats. Though one of these brightly colored advertisements was right in front my eyes (behind the laptop screen) I cannot remember which cartoon character it featured and what it was saying.
Who can read these ads?

Sometimes, however, strategically placed advertisements can work wonders. We had gone to Field museum where we had to wait in a long line to buy tickets. As we waited, we couldn’t help but watch the TV that was right in front of our eyes. We had prepared to buy just the normal tickets, but while we waited, the TV continuously advertised the museum’s special tickets for special one-time exhibits(at an additional price of course)! By the time we got to the counter, we were sold (literally) and bought the high priced tickets. This was an example of advertisement that went undetected as a piece of information.

Later, another successful strategically placed advertisements was seen in the city of Las Vegas. The city, also called Sin city, is renowned for its casinos. The entire city seemed to promote this image with vigor, as there were slot machines right at the airport when we got off the plane. Of course these machines were not officially called advertisements either, but they definitely served the purpose of attracting customers. When we reached our hotel, the front desk was not near the door as we would expect. Rather, we had to wade through miles and miles of the hotel’s slot machines just to get to the front desk and get our room keys. It seemed as if the hotel management was determined to entice us to play, and did not care if we were embarrassed to stroll in a glittering casino in travel soiled clothes (embarrassment compounded upon seeing other people in really fancy party clothes). The entire lobby was designed to entice guests to gamble, and I am assuming this strategy works, because another nickname of Las Vegas is “Lost Wages!”
Slot machines near Baggage claim at Las Vegas

This particular hotel that we stayed in had a tower which provided a beautiful view of the Vegas city. It was also not devoid of advertisements, though I don’t know if they work. The writings on the walls of the tower encouraged visitors to take proper advantage of the venue and be romantic, as “more than 2000 people get engaged here every year!” I sincerely doubt if anyone was inspired enough by this quotation to propose on the spot! However, if they did, then that would serve the purpose of making the tower special and attracting more visitors!

The M&M chocolate factory that we visited was also not far behind in advertising love. “Fall in love with a local” the walls screamed, and though I scanned the room for handsome cowboys to have a crush on, if not fall in love, I did not find any. Later I realized that the advertisement was regarding local chocolate! So much for my romantic dreams! But I am sure many people (like me) were attracted to the chocolate just because of its dreamy wordings!

Encountering advertisements in such odd places was an interesting reminder that there are no limits to the reaches of advertisement these days, advertisers will leave no inch of space unclaimed for their products! We live in a world where most of our information comes from advertisement, whether successful or not, and as time passes, it will get harder and harder to find any information that is not an advertisement. A hotel lobby, a waiting queue, 4 square inches of space, anything can be used for advertisement, and in future, everything will be! It is up to us to separate information from advertisement, but the task will just get harder as everyday passes by.

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